Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

Now in our 12th year of bringing you beautiful imagery from biomedical science every day

Maternal Protection

Using organoids – mini lab-grown tissues – to study the role of the placental connection between mother and foetus in immunity to infections

22 October 2022

Maternal Protection

Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infections don’t usually cause trouble in healthy adults. But in pregnant women, they can prove fatal for the foetus. The physical interface between mother and foetus, the placenta, can help defend against infection. Researchers investigate how using organoids, lab-grown tissues developed from human placenta, which mimic the trophoblast, which originates from the embryo and the decidua, which originates from the mother – both structures implicated in immunity. Trophoblast organoids (TOs) and decidua organoids (DOs, pictured, using fluorescence microscopy) both release immune factors even in the absence of infection, with TOs releasing an antiviral chemical. Infecting both types of organoid with fluorescently-tagged HCMV, revealed DOs had high levels of infection while TOs didn't. Infecting the organoids grown together showed that chemicals from TOs reduced HCMV levels in the DOs. These organoids can help future studies into maternal-foetal infections.

Written by Lux Fatimathas

Search The Archive

Submit An Image

What is BPoD?

BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

Read More

BPoD is also available in Catalan at with translations by the University of Valencia.